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Burt Prelutsky / Dec. 2, 2010

A Brief on Behalf of Hatred

Some clichés hang on because they’re true. Some others, however, hang on just because nobody has bothered blowing the cobwebs off them. A specific one I have in mind insists that hatred is a bad thing – that it’s actually worse for a person to hate than to be hated. I beg to differ.

Some clichés hang on because they’re true. Some others, however, hang on just because nobody has bothered blowing the cobwebs off them. A specific one I have in mind insists that hatred is a bad thing – that it’s actually worse for a person to hate than to be hated. I beg to differ.

Frankly, I think there’s a lot to be said for hatred. For one thing, it’s a very honest emotion. And unlike, say, love, it’s usually hard-earned and completely deserved. Love, on the other hand, can be as brief and fleeting as a snow flake. Bars and taverns, especially right around closing time, are full of people making declarations of deep and abiding love.

As divorce statistics would strongly indicate, family feuds often last far longer than a great many families. That’s hate for you! Talk to ex-wives and ex-husbands about their former spouses, and you’d think the women had all been married to Adolph Hitler, and the men to black widow spiders.

Whereas what we call love is often based on such shallow and ephemeral qualities as a woman’s face and figure, a man’s fame and fortune, hatred usually has its roots in such serious matters as betrayal and abandonment.

I have been taken to task for saying I hate a movie, a TV show, a so-called musician or a public personality whom I’ve never met. I plead guilty to the charge. But, so far as I’m concerned, it’s merely a form of verbal shorthand. As a rule, it’s not just those specific movies, shows, rappers and celebrities, I despise, but what they represent, the way they reflect so many of the things about our society and our culture that I find repugnant.

How is it, though, that nobody is ever taken to task for trivializing the word “love” when people are so quick to say “I love my new dress” or they love their cell phone or a pastrami sandwich or their granny’s potato salad? Why does nobody chastise them, as they do me, for squandering that precious word, which you’d imagine would be reserved for their parents, their spouses, their children, their pets, and my writing?

I happen to find “hate” a very handy word. The fact of the matter is that I feel quite comfortable using that four-letter word to convey just about everything from disapproval to disgust. Oddly enough, in real life I hardly hate anybody or anything, although I admit I’d be a lot happier if nobody had ever decided to move cilantro out of the backyard and into the kitchen.

I confess that I will occasionally blow up over various things, but I quickly get over it. I’m afraid that carrying a grudge strikes me as coming dangerously close to constituting manual labor.

Hate has gotten a bad rap, I think you’ll now agree, and I just hate when that happens.

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